• Published 15th Oct 2019
  • 5,205 Views, 250 Comments

Castling Cozy Glow - Silvermyr

Castling is a special move in chess where a player’s rook ends up just next to the king. Thanks to a friend’s kindness, a calculating young filly would end up closer to her princess than she ever thought. But can a filly like Cozy Glow be changed?

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Chapter 13- A New Deal

When Rumble left, Cozy returned to her room for some puzzling, before she went to the library an hour or so later, humming happily. She felt good about Rumble's visit and his gifts (it was ages since she got her very own gift!), and Twilight was still out. Perfect time to do some scheming. She did not know where to begin, but she had a tiny hunch. When Rumble talked about the nutmeg earlier he had hesitated strangely. While it might be nothing, she still felt like she should look it up. flying about the large bookcases, she finally found a cookbook.

"Nutmeg… nutmeg…" she traced the index with her hoof. "There."

She flipped in the book to the right chapter.


Twilight stepped into the room. She had a pair of saddlebags. "Did you have fun with Rumble?" Cozy did not answer, but put the book down and made to go to her room. She could return later. "I visited Cheerful Sun."

Cozy froze up mid-step. "Oh… how did she do?" Cozy asked in a hopefully impassive voice.

Twilight stepped past her and sat down by the table. She gestured towards the opposite stool. Cozy gritted her teeth a little, but decided to play along. This was something she wanted to know. She hopped up on the stool, facing Twilight.

"So? How was she?" Cozy asked again.

"She was afraid I'd shut the orphanage down because you had been there," Twilight said. Cozy felled her ears in displeasure. "But I wouldn't, of course. She actually asked me to tell you that if you wanted, once you gain your freedom, you could return there."

"Really?" Cozy asked. "Even after everything I did, she'd let me back? Even after I ran away?"

"She would," Twilight said. "She still cares for you, Cozy. I saw that much during my visit."

"Golly…" Cozy said. She felt a little warm inside at that thought. Cheerful had been kind to her, even when she caught on to the many antics she had pulled back then. She always soothed Cozy when she was upset and never treated her worse than anypony else, even if Cozy was a bit of a delinquent. In fact, Cheerful Sun was one of very few ponies to ever earn Cozy's trust. It felt good to know that, despite everything that had happened to her, some things still remained the same. She still had one little corner of Equestria she could call a loving home.

"She gave me some stuff too that she wanted you to have," Twilight said. "First, when you came to the orphanage, somepony arranged for a bank transfer in the orphanage's name. Cheerful, being so kind, opened an account for you and the money have been untouched since, generating a little interest for you. As you are not of age yet, the money will remain there for now, but you should know that you will have a small fortune waiting for you when you get older."

Cozy nodded. She was not entirely surprised, even if she had never known for sure. Still, having bits at the bank did not help her right now. She was too young to withdraw anything without a legal guardian. Maybe Cheerful would help, but not if she was on the run after having escaped this place. Kind as Cheerful was, Cozy doubted she would actively commit a crime and defy an alicorn.

"More importantly, she wanted you to have this, and she is sorry she kept it from you for so long."

Cozy gasped when Twilight withdrew a most familiar item, handling it carefully with her hooves the entire time. "Gimme that!" Cozy zipped over the table and took the wooden statuette in a protective hug. She leaned down and nuzzled it, checking for any and all damage.

Finishing her inspection she returned to her stool and placed the little statuette in front of her. "You haven't used magic on this, have you?" she asked carefully. She'd rather not give away anything about it to Twilight, but she had to know.

"No, Cozy. I was careful to only touch it with my hooves."

"Good. If you broke it, I'd never forgive you," Cozy warned.

"Will you tell me what that is?" Twilight asked. "It's clearly important to you."

"No!" Cozy snapped and took the little item in another hug. Then she felt a twinge of uncertainty. If she wanted have her outing next weekend, she had to behave. Answering now might earn her some well-needed credit with Twilight. But Twilight was suspicious to her. If Twilight caught her lying, then she'd lose her chance. "It… gave me my cutie mark, when I made it," she said silently. That was not a lie, at least, but there was no point in saying too much either.

"Oh?" Twilight said. "I thought your cutie mark signified manipulating ponies."

"I suppose my mark can mean many things," Cozy said. "Depending on how you look at it. But thanks for the compliment!" Cozy smiled. Twilight, for some reason, did not seem to have intended it as a compliment based on her expression. Cozy ignored that.

"I invited Sweetie Belle over tomorrow," Twilight changed the subject.

"I hope she's trained her chess then," Cozy said.

"I'm always open for a game, if you want," Twilight said hopefully.

Cozy did not dignify that with a response. She took her little rook and went to her room. Closing the door carefully, she went to the other side of the bed, so she was hidden from the door. Just in case Twilight came in. She put the rook on the floor and laid down in front of it, looking at the topmost part. Carefully she put her hoof to it.

"Cozy glow," she whispered.

And it did. A small, golden light began to shine from the top of the rook, illuminating the closest vicinity ever so slightly. Satisfied that it still worked, she removed her hoof and the light went out immediately. Better not use it anymore than necessary with Twilight so close.

When she went to bed soon after, she did so with a smile on her face. Not only had she gotten her most important possession back, but she had also discovered one more thing:

The Hydra Constellation was beginning to wane. Now she knew it was early fall. Since she had only been un-petrified for little over a week (it felt much longer), that meant she had only lost a few months in the statue.

She had not lost too much after all. And now she knew she did not need Twilight to tell her everything she wanted to know. When her back was against the wall, the filly Cozy Glow too had remarkable creativity and resilience. And so a small fear was soothed in her heart, and her rest was peaceful.

After having dodged Twilight for the breakfast next morning, Cozy sat and combed her tail when she heard a knock on the door. "Coming!" she called happily and tied the ribbon around her tail again. Rushing to the door, Sweetie Belle stood outside.

"Hi Cozy! Hope you're ready to get beat, because I've practiced my chess against Applebloom and Scootaloo!" Sweetie Belle flipped her mane confidently. "And you don't stand a chance."

"Oh reeeally?" Cozy asked coyly. "And they good enough to teach you how to beat me?"

"I taught them," Sweetie Belle said. "And I beat you once!"

Cozy blinked, positive that she must have misheard. "Wait… you taught the people you used to train with?"

Sweetie Belle nodded energetically. "Yeah!"

Cozy rolled her eyes. "Well, I guess I'll just be happy about my coming victory then."

"In your dreams!" Sweetie Belle said and marched past Cozy and began setting up the chessboard. "I'll show you! Sit down and make your move!"

Cozy smiled and sat down, wrapping her tail around her forelegs. They began their game, taking it slowly and casually. "You tattled to Twilight that I liked chess," Cozy said a few moves into the game.

"She really just wants to help you," Sweetie said and moved a knight. "And I thought that maybe you wanted somepony to play with too."

"I don't want anything to do with her," Cozy said. She pretended not to see Sweetie Belle felling her ears in displeasure. The game proceeded in silence.

"Can I ask something?" Sweetie Belle said carefully. "Twilight showed me a small rook-thingy yesterday, and it looked like your cutie mark. Do you want to tell me what it is…?"

"No, it's a secret," Cozy said and glanced at her rook. It stood on her bedside table.

"Can you at least tell me if you got it before or after your cutie mark?" Sweetie Belle said. "As cutie mark consultant it would be good for me to know! That way, maybe I can help you understand your mark."

"I already understand my cutie mark," Cozy said. "But since you are my friend, I guess I could tell you anyway: I got my cutie mark for making it." Twilight already knew that, and she wanted Sweetie Belle to enjoy visiting her, so she'd want to come back.

Now that she had her rook she actually had a starting point for how to escape, but it was not really a concrete idea yet. She would have wait a little while she figured out exactly how to go about it, but she didn't mind that much. She could probably get a small taste of freedom soon enough anyway, and she could be content for a little while with that. This newfound patience definitely did not have anything to do with the fact that it was Rumble who would take her out to fly.

She shook her head and concentrated on her game. She had a reputation to uphold.

Indeed, to nopony's surprise, Cozy won the next five games before she took pity on her struggling friend and decided to let Sweetie Belle win once.

"Hah! I knew all my training would pay off!" Sweetie Belle exclaimed as she finally won. "I guess I just needed a little time to understand your strategy first!" She flipped her mane confidently.

A faint knock on the door to Twilight's wing caused both fillies to turn to the door. "Hmmm… wonder who that is. Twilight almost never gets visitors up here," Cozy said and creeped up to the door to her room. She sat down next to it and pressed her ear to the wood.

"What are you doing?" Sweetie Belle asked.

Cozy winked. "Eavesdropping of course! Don't tell me you have never eavesdropped!"

"Well… I published my sister's diary once," Sweetie Belle said.

"Golly, that's sneaky," Cozy said with a grin. "So then you won't feel bad to eavesdrop with me, friend!" She tapped the floor next to her. "Come on! Have some fun!"

Sweetie smiled uncertainly, but sat down next to Cozy. There were hoofsteps out in the corridor.

"Oh, Chancellor Neighsay." That was Twilight's "Princess Voice".

"Princess." Cozy vaguely recognized Chancellor Neighsay's bone-dry tone. It was just like Cozy remembered it. Sort of droning, like a mosquito in your bedroom. There was another pony she hated. "I wanted to update you on the Key of Unfettered Entrance. Since it was recovered from outside Tartarus some of our best artificers have done their best to repair it, but I believe its time to focus their attention someplace else."

"Please, come into my study," Twilight said. Two pairs of hoofsteps passed just outside their door followed by a closing door.

"Come on!" Cozy said and pushed open her door quietly. Spying up and down the corridor for good measure, she quietly flew up to Twilight's door and began to listen again. Sweetie Belle quietly tiptoed up next to her.

"Are you sure this is a good idea?" Sweetie Belle whispered. "Won't she be mad if she spots us?"

"Then be quiet," Cozy hissed.

They heard a strange, crunching sound from behind the door.

"Well… I suppose I can't be surprised you couldn't repair this. It looks pretty bad." Twilight said.

"Our artifacts invariably needs ordered, crystalline structures to contain their magic. Nothing is more devastating than a large fracture… save from multiple large fractures. In fact, fine artifacts stabilize magic much better than our bodies do; that is why artifacts continued to function even after our magic was gone when that damnable filly-"

"Don't call her that!" Twilight said sharply.

"My apologies, Princess." He did not sound too apologetic.

"And don't you forget! You will never call Cozy Glow anything but Cozy Glow in my presence, do you understand?"

"Perfectly, Princess," Neighsay's voice had not shifted in the slightest from the dry lecture voice. "Anyway, the key won't be repaired. The damage is simply too extensive."

"And what do you propose we do with it?" Twilight's tone was just a little colder than normal. Cozy heard the difference clearly.

"Disenchant whats left of it," Neighsay said. "The splinters are finest diamond; valuable raw materials for artificers or magitechnicians. But only if the unlocking spell could be removed. I would do it myself, but with this many fragments and with such a powerful artifact, I believe the work is more suitable for a pony of your power. Most unicorns would need hours just to cleanse a single fragment, and there are many hundreds."

"I will look into it," Twilight said shortly. "I will report back when it's done. Are these splinters completely harmless? Is there no way to use them to unlock anything now?"

"The unlocking spell itself remains, but it's without power and completely unfocused. Without magic and a way to focus the enchantment, the only way to unlock anything with these would be to use them as manual lock picks," Neighsay said.

Twilight was silent for a few moments. "Very well. You may leave."

Cozy's heart nearly stopped when she heard Neighsay stand up and come to the door. She had anticipated they would at least say some parting words or some smalltalk that would let her creep back into her room! But Neighsay was too boring for that! They would only have a second to hide now!

And there were no hiding spots in the corridor; she knew that!

"Here!" Sweetie Belle whispered and pulled Cozy closer to the edge of the door just as Neighsay opened it. Cozy flapped her wings at the last moment and flew straight into Sweetie Belle, who thankfully remained silent. They huddled up in the corner, behind the door as it opened fully. Sweetie Belle and Cozy sat squeezed together in the triangular space between the door itself, the wall, and the casing surrounding the door. Cozy practically sat in Sweetie Belle's lap. Thank goodness they were both small ponies, or this would never have worked.

This was probably the closest Cozy had ever been to another pony; she could even feel Sweetie Belle's heartbeat.

She had a really soft coat…

At least Neighsay was quick to leave the room and the castle wing. But that was not enough. Twilight had to leave too or close the door so they could get away from here. But she stubbornly stayed in her room, accompanied by the sounds of magic.

"I wonder how Sweetie Belle and Cozy are doing," Twilight eventually mumbled to herself, several uncomfortable minutes later. They heard her step out of the room, mere hoofsteps away. She went up to the door to Cozy's room and knocked.

"Hello? Do you two want something to eat?"

Silence reigned in the castle. Both Cozy and Sweetie Belle held their breath. It would be hard to explain if Twilight found them huddled up here.

"Well that's strange," Twilight mumbled. "I thought Sweetie Belle would answer, at least… but I guess they will want some food eventually." Hoofsteps receded and followed Neighsay out through the door.

They waited another few moments before Cozy dared to push the door away and the two of them went back to their room.

"Too close, too close," Sweetie Belle said.

"But it was fun," Cozy said.

Sweetie Belle felled her ears. "I feel kinda bad though… and I don't even know what they talked about. Do you?"

She did. Cozy was the one who had packed the Key of Unfettered Entrance in the first place to ensure Twilight got stuck in Tartarus.

"No, I've no idea." For some reason, the lie felt a little less natural than it usually did when she spoke it to Sweetie Belle.

"But now you know Twilight is nice, because defended you!" Sweetie Belle chirped. "When Neighsay called you bad things, Twilight defended you. And she didn't know you were listening, so you can't pretend it was to trick you."

Cozy grumbled. "Maybe it was so Neighsay would like her more," she tried.

"Then she wouldn't have stopped him from calling you whatever he wanted," Sweetie Belle pointed out. Cozy grumbled again. She was running out or rational explanations. She decided to steer the conversation away from that avenue of questioning.

"Thanks for helping me hide though," Cozy said. "Rumble promised he'd ask Twilight if he could take me out for flying next weekend, but then Twilight must be happy. I can't get into trouble right now."

"Then why did you even eavesdrop in the first place?" Sweetie Belle asked with a bit of a huff.

"I still need to escape here somehow," Cozy shrugged. "I just don't really know how yet."

"You could always just try to work with Twilight…" Sweetie Belle suggested shyly. She silenced under Cozy's withering glare. "Uh… I know! If you want, I could tell Twilight about how you think friendship is power, and how there is nothing else. You know, like you told me last time?"

"Hmm… and what's in it for me?" Cozy asked.

"Don't you get it? Twilight will like it if you open up more to her! That is sure to get you in her good graces!"

Cozy thought. That did make sense. Twilight had tried to get into Cozy's head ever since she was freed, and if she felt like she had made progress, then she should be a bit more agreeable. And having Sweetie Belle tell Twilight would be the least humiliating way for Cozy to gain some well-needed favor with her jailer. But still…

Then again, it was not like Cozy really had to hide her view on friendship. She was right, after all, and that was all there was to it. Could Twilight really hurt her with that knowledge?

"Okay then. You can talk to her," Cozy finally said. She really really wanted that day out. With Rumble. She ruffled her wings at the mere thought of it. "But then you must keep quiet about how we eavesdropped! I don't want to get into trouble!"

"Great! You won't regret this, Cozy!” Sweetie Belle said. "And don't worry; I don't want to get into trouble either."

Once Sweetie Belle had said her goodbyes to her friend she went to meet Twilight in the other library where she and Rarity had talked to her after the last visit. Twilight was already there.

"Twilight! I have something to tell you!"

"Oh? I take it you two got along well then?" Twilight said hopefully. "Is she a good friend?"

"She's nice to me. And I think she likes spending time with Rumble too," Sweetie Belle said. "But do you remember last time I was here? I said there was something else about Cozy that I couldn't tell you yet?"

"Yes," Twilight said with interest. "Have you changed your mind?"

"I asked, and Cozy is okay with me sharing now!" Sweetie Belle said proudly.

"Wonderful, let's hear it!" Twilight said, just as happy as Sweetie Belle. "You obviously think it's important."

"Yeah, it's about how Cozy views friendship. She said that she wants friends because she thinks friendship is power. And she wants power because she thinks that everything comes down to that. If you don't have power, then you don't have anything at all! I think she thinks you can't be happy unless you have power."

Twilight furrowed her brow. "She thinks she will never be happy unless she is a princess?"

"Well… maybe not exactly, but… kinda?" Sweetie Belle said. "I don't really know, but she was very clear that friendship was power to her, and power was everything."

Twilight sighed. "Oh, how I wish she'd let me talk to her. I know I could help her understand better, but if I try to force her to listen she'll never take anything I say to heart. Poor Cozy… how can she hope to gain any friends like that?"

"She has two…" Sweetie Belle pointed out. "And if you want her to trust you a little more, then I think you will have a chance soon!"

"How so?"

Cozy had not explicitly given her permission to speak about Rumble's plan to ask for an outing, but Sweetie Belle knew Twilight, and she would never refuse such a heartfelt request if she knew how much it meant to Cozy. Telling Twilight now could only increase Cozy's chances.

"Well… Rumble plans to ask your permission to take Cozy on a small outing next weekend, for flying I think she said. If you let her, I'm sure she'd like you a bit more."

Twilight nodded. "Like your sister said, I need to show her a little trust before she can trust me. Perfect. She will have to have a tracking spell, but other than that I'm fine with letting them have a day for themselves… The Equestrian crown owns plenty of woodlands all over Equestria. They are private ground, so there they'll safely away from prying eyes."

"Can I come with?" Sweetie Belle asked. "It sounds like fun."

"You'll have to ask Cozy," Twilight decided. "If she wants to fly, then maybe she wants to make it a pegasus-only thing."

Sweetie Belle nodded. "I'll be here saturday morning then, and ask her. Maybe Rarity can come too! Or at least prepare a picnic basket!"

"I also have something to tell you, Sweetie Belle," Twilight said. "Cozy told me that she got her cutie mark for making the rook statuette. Not the other way around."

"She said the same to me," Sweetie Belle said. "But... I don't know what that rook is."

"No, she was very defensive about that," Twilight said. "But since you are the cutie mark expert, I thought you should know."

Sweetie Belle beamed. Not every filly got called an expert by the princess of Equestria! "Well, I don't think that her cutie mark really is for manipulation, then. She didn't make it by manipulating somepony . So it must mean something else. I wonder what that rook is..."

Twilight nodded. "Me too."

After having waved Sweetie Belle goodbye, Cozy had two things she had to take care of before Twilight returned. First she gathered her courage and quietly stepped into Twilight's study. Now that it was daytime, that owl should be asleep.

It was still in its cage with its head under a wing. Cozy nodded and flew up on the desk. She glanced back quickly to be sure Twilight did not come back (not that there was anything she could do if she did come back) and opened the sack on the desk.

Inside laid a million small splinters and some filigree settings. All that remained of the Key of Unfettered Entrance. Neighsay may believe it was unusable, but Cozy actually had an idea. Like all of her ideas, it carried a certain amount of risk, but all of her escapes would be risky. She dug through the sack until she found a small piece, barely more than a pebble. Maybe, just maybe it would work.

It would simply have to do; she could not stay here forever and had no way to determine if one pebble was better than another. She stashed the pebble in her mane and then quickly left the study. She went into her own room to put the key fragment away in her bedside table. There it should be safe. Then she proceeded to the library. She wanted to continue looking up nutmeg in that the book she had started in the morning, before Twilight interrupted her.

Luckily she found it exactly as she left it, so she cozied up in an armchair to read the rest of the segment. She found herself wishing for more hot cocoa, now that she sat in the same room, reading up on spices.

"Oh… so it's poisonous if you eat a lot," Cozy said once she was done. Apparently the nutmeg would not be of much help. According to the book, an adult sized pony would need to eat a lot of powdered nutmeg before noticing anything, and not even Cozy believed she would be able to get a pile of nutmeg up to her, grate them, and then trick Twilight into eating it… and that did not even factor in that alicorns supposedly were immortal. Did poisons even work on them? Cozy closed the book and put it back in its place. She had another avenue to try first anyway.

After her outing.

With Rumble.